The national home for all Malaysian sportspersons, Stadium Merdeka
By Tun (Dr) Ahmad Sarji bin Abdul Hamid
Stadium Merdeka holds the unique distinction in the history of modern South-East asia of being the only venue purpose-built for a Declaration of Independence ceremony.
On 31 August 1957, in Tapah my hometown, when I heard Tunku’s cries of Merdeka over Radio Malaya; I was 18 years old. Three days later, having arrived in Kuala Lumpur to study at the University of Malaysa, I paid the first of many visits to Stadium Merdeka.
Stadium Merdeka holds the unique distinction in the history of modern South-East asia of being the only venue purpose-built for a Declaration of Independence ceremony. In 1956, YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra saw the potential of the site. It was at the very center of Kuala Lumpur, easily accessible to the rakyat and the urban poor, and an ideal ‘national home for all sportsmen in Malaya’.
Stadium Merdeka faces the wrecking ball in the mid 1990s. Ironically, it was saved by the 1997 economic downturn. In 2000, PNB purchased the land on which Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara stand and together, with Badan Warisan Malaysia, it now conserving both stadia as national icons that cut across creed, race and class.
With their rehabilitation, the stadia will help re-establish an understanding of our nation’s independence especially among the younger generation. They will also appeal to consumers, historians, diners, football enthusiast, sports fans, architects, engineers and tourists.
In this way, although I was not able to be present on 31 August 1957, I will be able to stand tall knowing that in some small way I have participated in the reclaiming of our independence for past and future generations.
Stadium Merdeka is gazette as a national monument under the National Heritage Act 2005. It was restored by the Merdeka Trust between 2007 and 2010.
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